So yeah Joe Thomas. Thanks for sucking me into the vortex known as #Deflategate once again. Ordinarily I might ignore his comments but some of his comments are quite curious.

Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas recently discussed the situation involving Tom Brady and #Deflategate and he had a lot of things to say. Speaking to the media last Sunday, Thomas told reporters that Brady’s punishment doesn’t fit the crime. There is a lot to unpack here but let’s start with the following.

“I would equate what [Tom Brady] did to driving 66 [mph] in a 65 speed zone, and getting the death penalty.”

“If you want [quarterbacks] to play with a brand new football that comes out of the box, then make that the rule,” Thomas said. “If you’re going to allow them to break it in because you want more passing yards, then let them do whatever they want.

“Who cares if they throw a football that has no air pressure? What does it matter? Why don’t we let the quarterbacks do whatever they want to the football? I don’t understand why there’s any rules.”

“We know [quarterbacks] already doctor [footballs] 99 percent, why do we care about the 1 percent in the air pressure?” Thomas said. “Why does that matter? Nobody’s even explained why that even matters.”

“I think he’s trying to do everything he can to gain a competitive advantage to help him do his job better, which is to throw the football,” Thomas said. “Why should we be punishing a guy that wants to do his job better?”

Well maybe because what you describe is the very essence of cheating? Every single cheater in the history of ever uses the excuse of wanting to be better or get better. Its the reason why drug testing has long been common in sports. Disclaimer: I think drug testing policies are largely outdated and need refining.

Is Thomas advocating cheating here? Ball tampering is cheating. PSI levels aside, there are good reasons beyond preventing cheating to have a uniform feel and appearance to the football. We can quible over PSI levels but surely we can agree on that one thing.

Football by reason of its design is set up for one element of the game to handle the ball more than the other. In the NBA, they have rules governing these things too (as well as on and off the field behavior) but that gets lost in the general outrage over Goodell and his hammer hand. The perception of Goodell as a heavy fisted dictator is making it difficult for people to see the forest for the trees.

 

hqdefaultAfter months of simmering controversy over this issue, both sides have retreated to opposite ends of the pool and have resorted to supersoaker water gun fights. In a way Thomas is right.

“That’s why I’m sure there’s plenty of people saying this is embarrassing for the league. But it’s an entertainment business when it comes right down to it. When the game gets eyeballs in newspapers and on TV, that’s what in the end is the goal for everyone. And that’s what this controversy is giving them.”

Here we can agree. Its a big embarrassment but for reasons other than what Thomas means. Its an embarrassment because public perception of Goodell and the league is so poor that people are willing to defend a possible cheater and someone who admittedly defied the league and undermined/obstructed its investigation.

“I’m glad that he’s fighting [it],” Thomas said. “Because it’s good for the game. It’s an entertainment business. It’s turning into the WWE really. It’s like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically Goodell is like Vince McMahon.”

maxresdefault (3)The NFL certainly is about entertainment but #Deflategate is about as far removed from being about entertainment as you can possibly get. Nothing is more anathema to sports than cheating and ball tampering, or any tampering with equipment, should be addressed.

In light of Cris Carter’s recent comments, its fair to ask what image NFL players want to project. Hiring a “fall guy” of course is cheating the system too. They say cheaters never prosper but you wonder whether that is true when it comes to the NFL.

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